"It's like taking a nap on that little rug when you were in kindergarten."

Why I’ll Never Forget Edward Andrew Bredbenner

Never forget.

Those two words are frequently tossed out in normal conversation:

“I’ll never forget that episode of …”
“He (or she) is someone I’ll never forget.”

It’s said so often, that one wonders whether so many things could possibly be remembered.

In this case, I can say with certainty – barring any serious memory loss – that I will never forget Edward Bredbenner.

Never forget, Edward Bredbenner

We met in 1986 in Rome, New York, at Griffiss Air Force Base. He was a seasoned enlisted man-turned-officer – a captain, when we were introduced. I was a very “green” 2nd lieutenant. We worked for the toughest colonel in the Air Force – Col. Rondal H. Smith.

Ed knew everything about the aircraft on that flightline: B52′s, and KC-135 refueling tankers. And well he would, having been a B52 crew chief during the Vietnam war.

For some reason, he took an interest in my development. I didn’t work for him directly, but Eddy (as we would call him off-duty) showed me the ropes on being the best leader and officer one could be.

Here are some of the qualities that I will never forget about Eddy:

  • Organized
  • Dedicated
  • Hard-working
  • Ambitious
  • Always learning

One can be all those things, and more, without being the kind of human being he was. And more than anything, it’s these characteristics that put him in a league with very few people I’ve known in my life:

  • Fair with everyone
  • A true TEAM player – it was always about the team
  • Humble – never brought attention, or credit, to himself
  • Kind and compassionate
  • Welcoming
  • A family man
  • Willing mentor and guide

I will never forget meeting his wife – Lila – a southern woman full of charm, grace, warmth, and a flair for interior design. She was every bit as welcoming as Eddy. We became a part of their extended family over the course of our three years in New York.

We kept in touch over the years. They visited us in England, where Lila added to her wonderful collection of antiques. We exchanged phone calls about our kids and what was happening in our lives.

But I can never forget what Eddy taught me at the beginning of my career. Sometimes we think of those lives that have crisscrossed ours like Halley’s Comet, leaving indelible images on our brains. Edward Bredbenner was one of them. So much so that over the course of my career – and my life, for that matter – I’ve asked myself the question, “What would Eddy do?” in this situation, or that instance.

Somewhere around 2004 or 2005, we lost touch with them. It was the summer of 2009 when I received a voicemail from Lila – Eddy had passed on. Cancer had claimed this great soul in his 57th year (memorial announcement).

I tip my hat, and lift my glass to you, my friend.

Thank you for your 32 years of service to your country.

Selfishly, I’d like to thank you for all you did for me, unknowingly. You left your mark and helped make me a better person.

I will

NEVER

FORGET.

***

Is there someone you will never forget who left a lasting impact on you?

Comments

  1. J Timothy Quirk says:

    This is an excellent post, Michael. Clearly he had an enormous impact on you and those around him. I’m sorry for his family’s great loss

  2. A touching tribute to an obviously great and humble man. Thank you for introducing him to us.
    Russ

    • So glad to be able to pass on his legacy to a wider audience. Even though that wasn’t his style.

      BTW, I have a friend in Roseville, CA named Russ Towne. Interesting.

  3. Michael … This is a beautiful tribute. So typical of the thoughtful columns you write. Edward Bredbenner.sounds like an amazing man.

    I’m also writing to let you know that I’ve nominated you for The Lovely Blogger Award. The details are on my blog.

    Again, thank you, Michael, for the support and encouragement you’ve given me this past year. Edward Bredbenner’s top characteristics are also your own.

    • Judy, thank you for all your kind words and support. For you to mention my characteristics in the same breath as Eddy’s means as much as any compliment I’ve ever received. He was one of the humblest, yet most accomplished, person I’ve ever known.

      And thank you so much for The Lovely Blogger Award. I really appreciate you thinking of me.

  4. What a great way to honor an old friend. Sorry for your (and obviously the world’s) loss.

  5. There are far too people of this caliber around. I very much would have liked to have known him.

  6. Dude. Whaaaat? Rome, NY? In 1986? I used to go to Grifiss AFB all the time until 1985 when I went to college in Geneva, NY. Do I know you? Where are you from? I’ve had so many professors who have made enormous imprints on my life, I couldn’t even begin to list them all.

    But.

    I’m hoping to get in touch with two of them next week.

    And go for a walk with at least one of them.

    Sorry for your loss.

    What a nice tribute.

    • Yes ma’am, Rome, New York. In fact, MLB and I got married in Oneida. Lived there for about six months before moving to Rome. She was an anchor/reporter in Syracuse during the six months we lived in Oneida.

      I didn’t realize you were from, or lived in NY. So, Geneva – the old Finger Lakes, eh? Pretty cool. Beautiful area up there. What college? H & S?

      Hope you have a good visit with your profs.

      And thank you, he was a great person.

  7. A touching tribute Michael. You honored him so thoughtfully–I’m sure capturing a What would Eddy do? moment in the process.

    • I think you’re right, Coleen – this was a moment of What would Eddy do? And he would have done the same thing for me, if the situation were reversed and I were half the person he was.

  8. This is a beautiful tribute to a wonderful man whose passing must leave a huge hole in the world.
    On a lighter note, I am coming to Cali! Email me at susielindau@gmail.com

  9. Great way to make his memory and his qualities live on, MJ…

    • It was really a small thing that I wanted to do to keep his legacy going. It means a lot coming from a great writer, like you Kate, that it was a fitting tribute.

  10. Nice way to honor a friend who had such an impact on your life. I think you should share this with Lila–she would appreciate knowing how you feel about Eddy–I think this would bring her comfort. Nice to see your sentimental side come out in this blog post.

    • Hey MM, thanks for the nice comment. I have one sentimental post for every 7 or 8 humor ones. Not sure why, but I am a sentimental fool. :)

      Oh, and your comment about Lila seeing this – she saw it when I posted the link on Facebook and she saw it and thanked me for posting this. She’s just as special as Eddy, that’s for sure.

      BTW, we should connect on FB as well.

      • I would love that—I’m under the name Marciakesterdoyle–send friend request so I can join you! Also—-I nominated you for the Versatile Blog Award! Stop by my site to pick up your badge and leave a comment there to let me know you got it! Congrats!!!

        • Done. I’ve been out of touch for too long. Need to post. But must find a job – #1 priority, darn-it!

          Thanks for the VBA – always appreciate these from my favorites! I must make time to stop by your blog!

  11. eddy is my brother in law and he truly was sent to us by god’s grace(in blytheville ark.1971 or 72).i will always cherish is kindness,understanding manner,his gentleness and his beautiful smile!he truly is and always will be one of a kind.our times together for all those years (AND THERE WERE TONS OF GREAT,MEMORABLE TIMES)will forever stay etched in my mind.i loved eddy from day one and i always will.he is missed more often than i know but he is in heaven sharing his love for mankind,music and life with everyone!hopefully one day we will reunite again!

    • Rhonda, I’m so glad that you had the chance to read this. You were such a big part of Eddy and Lila’s lives. Lila spoke of you often.

      It’s so great to hear about your love for him and what he meant to you. I couldn’t agree with you more about loving him from day one. I felt the same way about Ed and Lila both.

      And I’m sure we will all see him again one day soon.

      I hope you and your family are well, Rhonda.

  12. What a lovely tribute to what must have been an admirable human being! No wonder he made such an impact on you, and a positive one at that. The world needs more like him!

  13. Touching post, MJ. Thanks for sharing your old friend with your new ones.

  14. Man, he sounds like a cool guy to know. I’m sorry for your loss! Those kind of friends change us, and that’s how we will never forget.

  15. A beautiful tribute to a man who left behind a great legacy…thank you for sharing all the attributes that made this person great and memorable. It gives us a standard to strive for…glad to see you back around…:)

    • I always appreciate your encouragement, Sunshine. I’ve been in and out of blogging lately and more focused on the job search. But had this post weighing on my mind for some time now.

      He left such a mark on all those who knew him – truly a great person.

      Hope you and the family are well, my friend.

  16. This is a wonderful tribute to your friend Mj. He had all the rare good qualities in him. Sometimes only one person can change things for others and I feel he did the same for you. Sorry for your loss.

  17. Eddy Bredbenner sounds like the kind of person we all would like to know. You were very fortunate to have him in your life. It’s just too bad that cancer robbed you…and everyone else…of his presence and influence.

    Have I ever known anyone like him? No. No one who has had that sort of impact in my life. But I will always remember the student teacher in my 9th grade writing class. But for her enthusiastic encouragement, I wouldn’t be here today. :)

  18. elainegriffindesigns says:

    This really made me tear up!! I think all too often it happens that people lose touch, and then get that phone call. I hope you found some comfort in remembering him with this post.

    • Yes, I wish I would have been in touch closer to before he became ill. I would have liked to have had that time to catch up on each other’s families. It was definitely comforting to write it.

  19. I am awfully sorry for this loss.
    I’ve noticed that good people often pass away too early. You will never forget him and he will always live in your heart and in the hearts of others.

    • Thank you, Jack. It was way too early in my opinion. Don’t understand why that happens, but he will never be forgotten, and his impact spreads like a ripple in the water.

  20. Eddy sounds like an incredible person. That was a great loss to the world but he clearly led a meaningful life if he had such a positive influence on people around him.

  21. as much as I appreciated being introduced to such a wonderful person, Mike, I appreciated how you expressed your appreciation. To be remembered for such wonderful qualities is to be well remembered.

  22. I’m so sorry for this terrible loss. But what a gift. And imagine how many lives he touched. Inspires me to be a better person. Thanks for the nudge.

  23. I am sorry for your loss but can only hope that when I pass I have touched someone’s life in such a way they will be as thoughtful about my life as you have been about your friend’s.

  24. MJ, this was an incredibly touching post, I truly enjoyed getting to know him through your words. What an amazing man he was to have had such a positive influence on your life, and for you to respect him so greatly. Thank you so much for sharing this story, and for allowing us to see the sentimental side of you ;-). Loved it!

    • It was definitely a privilege to share a bit of this great man with the blog world. And thank you for the kind, encouraging words, JuGrooLove!

      BTW, what part of our great state do you live in again?

  25. This is a great post MJ. I didn’t have to ponder long on my choice. Mr. Rasmussen was my Current Affairs teacher in high school. He made history and current affairs curriculum exciting and interesting. On the last day of class before graduation he told our class to go out in the world as sponges, soaking up whatever it was that interested us. Travel when you can and see something besides the town or county you live in. Even if it’s 50 miles away from home, go somewhere and see something different. Experience what you do not know. I pass that on to my nieces and nephews, and other young people. His words challenged the life of this young farm girl who yearned for more!

  26. Dave McPeek says:

    Mike, OMG, I stumbled upon this, looking for something else…can’t believe Eddie is gone. LIke you said, he was unforgettable, and the best example a young officer could ever hope to follow. We lost track of him and Lila after leaving Carswell–we’d visited them in Abilene when Brittany was just a toddler.
    On the aircraft side, he was the best that ever was.
    Good tribute to him.

  27. Derek Bredbenner says:

    Thank you Michael for your tribute to my father. Ed had an amazing career as an Air Force maintenance officer and as the aircraft maintenance director of the presidential fleet. He was also a talented guitar player and a good dad. It is great to read how much he was an influence in your life. Like yourself, many of Ed’s former co-workers praised him for exceptional technical skill and leadership. Applying these qualities into our own lives is one of the best ways to remember him.

    • Jim Bourassa says:

      I too had the distinct honor of serving alongside Ed while stationed at Scott AFB from 99-02. I not only worked with him at HQ Air Mobility Command but we were also neighbors in Troy. We spent many hours noodling away on our guitars together in his finished basement, talking about music and sharing war stories about our military exploits in aircraft maintenance. Yes, he was just as you described him, MJ…an all around great person and true American patriot who gave so much of himself and expected nothing in return. I lost track of him after he retired there at Scott (a very moving ceremony) but looked him up again after I retired in 2006 while he was at Andrews with DynCorp. We chatted on the phone for a good long while, reminiscing, as he gave me some sage advice about my transition to civilian life. I was deeply saddened the next time I tried contacting him and heard the news, but am left with the joy that I had the opportunity to know this great man whose time was cut short here on God’s earth. I know I’ll sure never forget him. Great blog.

      • Jim, thank you for sharing your experience with Ed. He was such a class act all the way around. I wish I could have been there for his retirement ceremony. I’ll be it was a good one. Thank you very much for kind words about the post. It was a pleasure to give him the tribute. He was such a deserving person and it was difficult to even hear that he was gone. He’s in a better place, but it’s tough without him here.

    • Derek, it was a real privilege to write about your dad. He was such a great person. I had forgotten about how good a guitar player he was. We always talked about being on the beach, kicking back with his guitar and my surf board. I sure do miss him. Hope you and your family are well. Would be great to see you all again someday.

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